Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

A Closing Act on the Summer Season

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Like so many silver linings in this Covid summer, the ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas are proving themselves the stars of my September season. Blooming a bit later this year than usual, perhaps they will stay white longer due to the cooling weather. Their color is so truly luscious and perfectly named, fresh and green in summer’s heat.

Height-wise (growing 72″ to 96″ high and wide), they’ve shown themselves to be the perfect divider along the east-facing wall that includes the Orangerie Garden and Green and White Garden.

On the west-facing side they share their grace with the Fountain Garden. The scene when you enter this main garden through the gates is breathtaking, especially with the ‘Sedona’ Coleus in full display. This year, they, too, are more bountiful than ever–fairly bursting out of their (large) stone containers.

We have a little secret that helps us keep the shrubs at about 7′ to 8′ high and tidy looking…two prunings. Our calendar is predicated by the Newport Flower Show weekend the end of June, when all the gardens need to be in readiness. So in mid-May we trim their sides as well as front (so they don’t flop into the path) and they look “contained” come Show time. This also promotes more blooms! Our second prune is in mid-July. Otherwise, we found them likely to throw off new growth at odd angles and become too full.

At some point in the fall, these jewels too quickly start losing their yummy lime shade and turn to parchment with soft tones of shell pink (and then into deeper shades of ruby). I assuage my disappointment by creating arrangements in my LBD (little black dress) of urns. If you squint, it does look like an ice cream cone of sherbert shades. While this doesn’t hold up long as an arrangement, I can always look back on these images…

And so, summer turns into September, our loveliest month of the year in Newport…heralded by the first blooms of my treasured ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas. What is your September favorite?

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

10 thoughts on “A Closing Act on the Summer Season

    1. Hope they’ll help! Each garden is different, ours is in Zone 6B and this routine has proven very workable and satisfying. xB

  1. Have you considered giving a 5 – 7 minute video tour walking through your garden? It would be easier for readers to understand the architectural flow and how these separate rooms blend in with one another. Sorry for sounding like a marketer!

    1. Oh Lauren, it is such a good idea…that’s why I intersperse them through my Instagram/Facebook posts.
      Both are under the name Private Newport. Thank you! xB

  2. Limelight Hydrangeas have become a Garden Rental Staple for my late summer Events.
    I can’t say it enough, Thank you for Sharing.

    1. Oh Edward, thank YOU for being part of my Private Newport family. Hope there actually are some events in your plans this fall! xB

  3. An absolutely stunning way to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall! I love your Sedona Coleus plants for their beauty and great pops of color. A magnificent garden in all regards!!!!! Hugs.

    1. Hi, happy you agree about the choice for this blog; it just seemed so right…a genuine take on the feeling of the moment everytime I looked at them.xB

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